Ferry service is a critical part of BC’s transportation network, one that provides a significant amenity to British Columbians from across the province and an essential social and commercial link for residents, their families and businesses in coastal communities. The guiding principles behind future decisions to affect the coastal ferry service will be based on affordability, efficiencies and innovations in the system, and on a commitment to sustainable transportation connections to coastal communities for future generations. The Province is seeking input on measures that are intended to maintain a sustainable ferry service while minimizing the rate of increase of future fares:
- SERVICE ADJUSTMENTS
Despite increased investments by the Province, additional efficiency measures, fare increases and service reductions on the major routes, the BC coastal ferry system faces a shortfall of $18.9 million to 2016. In response to consistent feedback that ferry users are concerned about the affordability of the service, BC Ferries provided, at the request of the Province, information to consider when identifying the service reductions to achieve $18.9 million in net savings to 2016. The Discussion Guide presents the planned reductions and seeks feedback on the interests and concerns that these adjustments may raise.
- SENIORS' DISCOUNTS
Feedback from a previous round of consultation suggested that the seniors’ discount could be reduced if it meant that ferry fare increases would be lower in the future. The Discussion Guide outlines the plans for the seniors’ discount and seeks feedback on the change to the program.
- GAMING PILOT PROJECT
The Province is considering the introduction of a pilot project that would make gaming facilities available on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route, with revenues directed to reducing pressure on fare increases. The Guide describes the pilot and seeks feedback on whether gaming might be implemented on other routes if the pilot project is successful.
- RESERVATION SYSTEM, TIME-OF-DAY PRICING, AND LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Participants in previous consultations have also suggested that the BC Ferries’ reservation system could be expanded and/or adjusted to improve efficiency and travel certainty and, perhaps, reduce costs. The Discussion Guide seeks feedback on these initiatives.
- SUPPLEMENTAL PRIVATE PASSENGER-ONLY SERVICE
On some routes, there are alternative private passenger-only ferry services that supplement the BC coastal ferry service. The Discussion Guide seeks feedback on what features ferry users might like to see in these supplemental services.
Feedback received through this community engagement will be compiled and presented to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and BC Ferries to help inform service adjustments and policy changes. A Community Engagement Summary Report will also be issued in January 2014, outlining the feedback received during the process, as well as reporting additional comments.